Ali Amin RezaeiAli Amin Rezaei works as a Project Manager at the University of Oldenburg. He will tell us a bit more about Oldenburg's blockchain highlights.
1. How is the University of Oldenburg involved in blockchain, and can you tell us a bit about your (latest) developments?
Blockchain is a technology which can really change the way we interact and do business with each other. At the University of Oldenburg - and especially the VLBA (Very Large Business Applications) Department - we have incorporated blockchain into our teaching curriculum. We launched the Haptik project two years ago, and we have also been working with the BLING project for the last year.
‘Haptik’ is about digitizing and decentralizing the ‘Bill of Lading’, which is the most important document for freight transport in the shipping/logistics industry. In commercial shipping, each shipment produces a large number of different documents
– all issued by different partners. Each partner issues paper documents, and the partners involved do not necessarily always trust each other. This process is not very robust, is time-consuming, and is expensive. If we want to digitize this process, these documents need to be stored in a data base of some form. Given the lack of trust (or relationship) between partners, who would be in control of such a system? In the Haptik project, we are developing a decentralised platform based on distributed ledger technology using a private blockchain based on hyperledger-fabric) that enables the creation and trading of digital tokens, which serve as an electronic Bill of Lading.
Through this system, all the parties involved have access to a
trusted, immutable electronic ledger.
2. Which blockchain topics do you find the most interesting or promising?
As blockchain evolves, the use-cases evolve as well. Initially, blockchain was well-known because of bitcoin, and use-cases were all about financial use-cases and cryptocurrency. The Ethereum blockchain allowed the use of ‘smart contracts’, which enabled the application/automation of business logic on distributed ledgers, which has opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Blockchain has been constrained by the trilemma of decentralization, security and scalability. IOTA , a scalable distributed ledger, has a lot of potential because its unique architecture seems to be able to solve that trilemma, which opens up an exciting range of new potential use-cases.
We are now working with the city of Oldenburg on an interesting use case that uses IOTA. All cities in
Germany have to register local sex workers as required by the Federal ‘Prostitutes Protection Act’ (Prostituiertenschutzgesetz). Workers are required to register and receive a registration certificate, and must undergo regular health tests. Health organizations in Oldenburg have had a problem with fake or invalid registration certificates. Our aim in this use-case is to develop a solution that ensures the integrity of the registration certificates while protecting the privacy
of the sex-workers. We are using an IOTA distributed ledger to store these certificates and the unique ID of every party involved – the registration office, sex worker
and the client. The sex worker uses an app to decide who can access their certificates and what information should be available to whom. The system is very user-friendly: a client has to create a simple username and password in the app which anonymously registers them and issues an ID on the IOTA network. If a client/organisation wants to authenticate a registration certificate, they only need to scan the QR code which is generated by the app on the sex worker’s mobile phone. This allows workers to control what information they share, while users can ensure the validity and authenticity of their certificates.
3. What is the most valuable lesson you have learned so far by working together with international partners in this European project?
Cooperating in an internationally oriented project provides a range of opportunities for the partners to learn from each other, and to be exposed to new use-cases. As a result I believe partners can be more innovative and help each other avoid certain common mistakes. A highlight for us has been the regular meetings with the Drenthe Blockchain Lab. When I initially started to research our use-case, I wanted to use Hyperledger-fabric to implement the app. However, after some fruitful discussions with the Drenthe Lab and looking at the similarities between our use case and their use-case, I was convinced that using IOTA was a better approach, and we’ve since had regular technical discussions about the details of our implementation. Without this connection, the whole process would have been more cumbersome and could have taken much longer.